Rosa by Jesús Orellana is animation so good, so clear and gorgeous, it’s better than real life.
It combines some of my favorite ideas and obsessions: posthumanism, postapocalypse, surrealism, our dead and dying world, and martial arts. It’s the kind of film Ghost in the Shell and The Matrix wish they were. The laudations poured over Rosa are so well deserved and it seems like the kind of short film that will launch a career. It looks like he created this completely by himself, with no budget. He’s now getting to adapt it into a live action film, which actually bums me out.
There’s no place for adult animation in the west, and it saddens me every day. I talked about anime before, but I think Orellana could be the type of person to give us some truly amazing adult animation that would rival any anime. If this were a 90 minute animated feature, I would probably see it a hundred times.
But that’s not the world we live in.
Anyrate, the film here, Rosa. I really don’t know what to say about it. You simply need to watch it. If you love science fiction and martial arts, then this is made for you. It’s a dark and brutal look at the world beyond us, the one we’re creating each and every day, running towards our own extinction. Who’s to say what the world will be like when we cease to exist? When our species suicides itself away, what will that leave? Probably not much. We’ll leave a dead and dying world, a rind of rot coating the entire planet.
But what Rosa reminds me of is that life goes on. Death is only the ending for those who die. Life goes on. Endlessly. It will find a way and we see glimpses of a very strange ecosystem rising through the shattered world these cyborgs race through. Plants birthing cyborgs, plants blooming from them. It’s a very cool look at what the future could be like, unlikely as it may seem.
Who’s to say what will happen when hypertech meets nature? We often talk about the unnatural things humans create and how it murders nature. I find this absurd, purely because we are natural processes. Whatever a human makes is natural because, well, we’re a part of nature. We cannot create something outside nature unless we assume that we’re somehow outside nature.
What humans have done and continue to do is extremely destructive. There’s no denying that, and I don’t think it’ even something worth debating. But in destroying nature, we’re really transforming it. We’re transforming the world.
What we’re turning it into is a place not fit for human life, or life for any complex organism, really. But we are transforming it and the world will go on without us, indifferent to the scars we ripped through its skin. Earth doesn’t belong to us and it doesn’t really care that we’re here. We’re a million year old parasite that’s developed into a disease over the last couple thousand years. The earth is turning inhospitable because we’ve broken a contract, a rule of conduct that no other species, as far as we know, has broken. But the earth is rising against us and it will wipe us away unless we murder ourselves away before it has the chance.
But that’s all an aside. It’s something I think about a lot. It’s something I’m writing about almost always. The last novel I finished and the two I’m currently writing deal with a world that doesn’t want us. We turned our back on the ecosystem and earth and so it’s shrugging us off.
And Rosa fits very well in this. It says so much without even having a word appear on screen. No words are spoken, none play across the screen, but Orellana does miles of worldbuilding in these ten minutes.
The imagery is mindblowing. It really does feel more real than real life. It feels and looks like the future we deserve, or at least the one we’re creating. Though we follow cyborgs through a wasted world, the presence of petals, of vines, of plantlife is always present We see a future that belongs to plants and the hypertech we’re always hoping to achieve. We want desperately to create something that resembles us, that maybe can understand our unique place in this global ecosystem. We want to build a new species, one we can be the mothers of. Or perhaps we’re trying to create new gods to replace the ones we stopped caring for.
But Rosa isn’t really about any of that. It’s about rusted over and obliterated humanity and how life goes on without us. Death is not the end, nor is it the beginning. It’s just part of this process.
Really, Rosa, for me, is about the gorgeous aesthetic and the fighting. The fighting is the most impressive I’ve ever seen animated. Truly. You won’t see this kind of speed and clarity and precision in any other animated film. It rivals human choreography. To think that one person did this by themselves over the course of a year is insane.
And I suppose that’s all I really had to say about this glorious film. Stop reading this and watch Rosa. It only takes ten minutes.
Then, go outside. Unplug. Throw your phone in the river.
Enjoy this summer.